A MAN WHO used multiple fake Facebook profiles to blackmail children into sending him recordings of them committing sexual offences has been jailed for 16 years in England.
Paul George Leighton (32), from Seaham in Durham, was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court today after pleading guilty at earlier hearings to numerous charges – the majority of which were in relation to the coercion of children on social media.
These included three rape charges, which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was able to prosecute even though the offending, which Leighton instigated online, took place in a different country.
In December 2016, Leighton was arrested by Northumbria Police after they received information he had been exchanging indecent images over Facebook.
During an interview, he admitted to officers that he had created 30 to 40 fake profiles on the social media website, through which he had persuaded children to send nude images of themselves.
An examination of his phone revealed further abuse of as many as 100 children in the US and Canada.
Leighton had succeeded in persuading young people to perform sexual assaults and rapes on younger relatives, including the rape of a two-year-old girl by one victim.
He had threatened to expose the children in question to friends and family if they did not send him videos of themselves committing these offences.
He also admitted to two sexual assaults of a child under the age of 13. He committed these offences in the UK.
Gary Buckley of the CPS said: “The offences unearthed during the investigation of this case will be chilling reading for any parent. By using fake Facebook profiles, Paul Leighton preyed on the vulnerabilities and insecurities of younger children, coaxing them into increasingly extreme forms of sexual activities.
This case perfectly illustrates the very real risks to children of sharing images of themselves online and I would encourage anyone who believes they are being targeted in this way to report it to police at the earliest opportunity.
“Taking swift action may well prevent others from falling victim to similar crimes.
“It is difficult to overstate the damage caused by Paul Leighton, but it is our sincere hope that the sentences passed today bring a measure of comfort to all of his victims.”